Townsend Bell looks to upset the multi-car efforts in qualifying and the race.
Speedway, Ind. – Is it possible for a one-car team to still win the “World’s Biggest Auto Race,” the famous Indianapolis 500?
Not since 2011 when Dan Wheldon scored a popular last-lap victory for Bryan Herta Autosport has a single-car effort pulled off the nearly impossible feat against the likes of the Penske, Ganassi and Andretti multi-car contingents.
Local Indy racing star Ed Carpenter fought off the “super” teams in 2013 to capture the pole position in his own one-car operation and the Butler graduate led the most laps in the race before settling for 10th in the 200-lap classic at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Now, even Carpenter’s team has expanded to a three-car faction in an effort to gain as much information between the three teams to lead to the coveted Borg-Warner Trophy presentation.
We know we are the ‘underdogs’ against the larger teams like Penske, Ganassi, Andretti and others.
So when local businessman Dennis Reinbold agreed to run veteran driver Townsend Bell in a single-car organization in this year’s 99th running of the Indy 500, most Indy 500 experts dismissed any chance of the Dreyer & Reinbold – Kingdom Racing scoring the 500 win.
“We have run multi-car teams many times at the Indy 500,” said Reinbold, whose family legacy at the Indy 500 dates back to 1927 when his grandfather, Floyd “Pop” Dreyer, served as a crewman on the Duesenberg. “But we felt if we put our total concentration to Townsend’s Robert Graham Special that we could have a very competitive effort in qualifying and the race.”
So far, Reinbold’s little team has been impressive in practice runs this weekend including Wednesday’s sensational 228.969 mile per hour lap that put Bell, the 40-year-old from Pacific Palisades, Calif., second overall.
“We have been working right through our checklist of items with the engineering department and the mechanics,” said Reinbold, entering his 16th consecutive Indy 500 as a team owner. “So far everything has been working well. We know we are the ‘underdogs’ against the larger teams like Penske, Ganassi, Andretti and others. But we believe our program is solid and Townsend is a very good driver.”
Townsend already won the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring
Bell, an eight-time Indy 500 starter, matches his team’s Indy 500-only mentality with just the “one-off” drive annually at Indy. Bell is an analyst on Verizon IndyCar Series race telecasts for the NBC Sport Network as well as a regular on the TUDOR United Sports Car Series. He has won both the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring in recent years.
“To be honest, the Indianapolis 500 is the only race I want to drive in the Verizon IndyCar Series,” said Bell, whose best Indy 500 finish is fourth in 2009. “I have a regular sports car gig and I really enjoy working on the NBS Sports telecasts. Plus I have other television ventures now too.”
But Bell’s passion, like every other driver in the 33-car field at Indy, is to win the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” and the father of two young sons knows he only gets this opportunity once a year.
“And I want to make the most of it,” said Bell. “I have worked with multi-car teams in the past at Indy. But I saw the effort and the progress that Dennis’ team has many here with a single-car operation. They have full-time people working all year for this one race and I know they have a solid, experienced team that can produce a race-winning car. So far, things have been moving in the right direction for the Dreyer & Reinbold – Kingdom Racing.”
Fifth fastest speed
Bell posted the fifth fastest speed (226.519 m.p.h.) in Tuesday’s practice runs followed by a 228.969 reading in Wednesday’s action at the famed 2.5-oval just west of downtown Indianapolis.
“It’s still early for everything that goes on at the Indy 500,” said Bell. “But I still feel that a one-car squad can be right in the thick of things in qualifications this weekend and next Sunday in the race. Dennis and his team manager Chase Selman have put together a very good team to battle the big organizations. So we’ll fight for the ‘little’ teams this month. Hey, maybe we’ll be the Hickory in IndyCar racing. We are in Indiana, you know.”
Qualifications will be held this Saturday, May 16, and Sunday, May 17, to determine the 33-driver lineup for the 99th running of the Indy 500, which is scheduled for a noon start on May 24.
Dreyer & Reinbold – Kingdom Racing